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Ways American Can Improve the Flagship Program

Ways American Can Improve the Flagship Program

Old Oct 5, 2023, 3:23 pm
  #1  
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Ways American Can Improve the Flagship Program

I personally think that AA does a good job with its Flagship Program and its premium products in general. The ground experience is already better than what AA's rivals offer and I find the premium cabins to be more consistently comfortable than DL, UA, or AS. I find even the older J cabins to still be quite spacious and comfortable for longhauls, even though the 77W and 321T are showing their age. When they take delivery of their new XLRs and 789s and complete their retrofits on older aircraft, they'll easily have the best hard product among US carriers.

I believe there's a huge opportunity here for American to make some small and affordable changes to the Flagship product that could put them on par with their European and Asian counterparts:
  1. Attentive FAs that seem to enjoy (or at least not resent) their work. I've had some flawless crews, but there's no excuse for how bad it can sometimes be. I don't need white glove service, but I'll take an AS or WN flight attendant any day of the week. Consistently offering PDB, a proactive refill or two, and clearing plates and trash - that's the only thing separating AA and most international carriers from a service standpoint, but it does make a big difference to the pax experience.
  2. Dine on demand menu with small bites for flights over 10 hours.
  3. More frequent updates to onboard dining. Besides whatever is going on with their beef, I don't find the Flagship dining to be totally abysmal. However, I think that more frequently rotating in new menus would go a long way to provide variety and liven up the experience. The wine list ranges from awful to acceptable. Stock a few bottles of premium champagne or sparkling and a few of a nice Rhone. I don't need 2008 Salon, but would be thrilled with a $40 pinot noir champagne or blanc de blancs before a 12 hour haul to LHR.
  4. More variety in the hot food rotation in the Flagship Lounge, and for trips operating from airports that lack Flagship facilities, provide a premium drink voucher and complimentary hot menu item at the AC if flying on a Flagship itinerary.
This may be wishful thinking, but seeing how AA is investing in their cabins and lounge experience, there's no reason they shouldn't vie to have their Flagship offering taken seriously as a premium product. What do you think?
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Last edited by gophish11; Oct 5, 2023 at 6:57 pm
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 3:30 pm
  #2  
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Originally Posted by gophish11
4. For trips operating from airports that lack Flagship facilities, provide a premium drink voucher and complimentary hot menu item at the AC if flying on a Flagship itinerary.
We don't give them ideas, we need flagship lounges in SEA and RDU! /s
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 3:41 pm
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Originally Posted by S80
We don't give them ideas, we need flagship lounges in SEA and RDU! /s
...and CLT.
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 3:44 pm
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Originally Posted by robertablake
...and CLT.
Of course, but there's actually plans to open one there (and at PHL).
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 4:32 pm
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I think QR style dine on demand is probably too much to ask, but perhaps something like JL, where the main meal is served to all pax at the same time, but then there is a relatively extensive menu of small bites and a set 2nd meal (usually breakfast) that can be ordered on demand.
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 4:46 pm
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Originally Posted by gophish11
  1. Dine on demand menu with small bites for flights over 10 hours.
The dine on demand thing is asking too much from AA but generally on long haul Flagship even just transatlantic 7 hours they always put good snacks and small bites in the galley. Besides junk like chips or candy bars, they also usually have fruits, small sandwiches, etc and I find that since the sundae is the most popular dessert, the FAs will often put all the other leftover dessert and cheese plates in the galley as well.
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 5:03 pm
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Originally Posted by NickRivas
The dine on demand thing is asking too much from AA but generally on long haul Flagship even just transatlantic 7 hours they always put good snacks and small bites in the galley. Besides junk like chips or candy bars, they also usually have fruits, small sandwiches, etc and I find that since the sundae is the most popular dessert, the FAs will often put all the other leftover dessert and cheese plates in the galley as well.
Agree, and for eastbound transcons, I think current levels of service are adequate (although hotel room service style breakfast order sheet like on QF and other carriers would be appreciated). On westbound day flights, I do think a small on demand menu, like I described above, would work.
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 6:11 pm
  #8  
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Originally Posted by S80
We don't give them ideas, we need flagship lounges in SEA and RDU! /s
That would be great, though you'd need to see AA run a lot more international traffic through those stations to even dream about it. There's not even an AC at SEA. I'd like to see AA sponsor showers at the AS lounge at the N satellite. If you had showers, that lounge meets or beats most FL.

Originally Posted by fender5787
I think QR style dine on demand is probably too much to ask, but perhaps something like JL, where the main meal is served to all pax at the same time, but then there is a relatively extensive menu of small bites and a set 2nd meal (usually breakfast) that can be ordered on demand.
Exactly what I'd like to see.
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 6:25 pm
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Are you asking about Flagship First? or Flagship business?
Since First class is going away, I assume we are talking about the future "Flagship Business" product?
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 6:44 pm
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Originally Posted by carlosdca
Are you asking about Flagship First? or Flagship business?
Since First class is going away, I assume we are talking about the future "Flagship Business" product?
Yes - I mean their "Flagship" ticketed itineraries in either F or J, but mostly J since that's the future. I.e., what would you like to see them do with the FF Dining program for 2024 and beyond?
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Old Oct 5, 2023, 9:23 pm
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I agree. Their flagship product is good on ground and in-air.. I think they need to invest more in the wine program and also rotating the menus more often (both from a seasonality standpoint and some locality based on the destination/or departure area)..

They did a great job with the Chelsea/Soho lounges so the more of that they can do for the other flagship base camps the better.

I also agree with the FA’s hospitality on those routes.. I have only had above average to really good ones.. (SFO-JFK), that’s mostly flagship first and only 5-6 times a year, so not indicative of the rest of the cabin or any trend since small sample size.

So in summary, better wine, more “local” food menu but everything else is pretty good and better than anything else domestically.
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Old Oct 6, 2023, 10:15 am
  #12  
 
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Originally Posted by fender5787
I think QR style dine on demand is probably too much to ask
AA actually had dine on demand as an advertised feature at one point. When requested, all courses were to be brought at once on a tray though.
I asked for it a couple of times. I think this was back in the NGBC seats times.
Given how AA's FAs are, this is a change they would not welcome. If implemented, the FA's dislike for the change will be reflected on the FA's attitude towards the passengers.
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Old Oct 6, 2023, 10:59 am
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Originally Posted by gophish11
Yes - I mean their "Flagship" ticketed itineraries in either F or J, but mostly J since that's the future. I.e., what would you like to see them do with the FF Dining program for 2024 and beyond?
There are two things here, what I want, and what makes sense for AA to implement so as to attract paying customers.

Personally, I don't care about the Flagship Dining.
I value more:
Uncrowded and dedicated check-in (when visas need to be checked or when checking bags)
An uncrowded lounge.
Dedicated line for boarding that can be used ANY TIME (not just at start of boarding and then the area just gets mobbed with all pax),
Consistent good service from FAs
Of course, a comfortable seat. I think the current AA J seat variants are good overall. Hopefully new aircraft does not have those awful J seats with tiny footwells that make for a super uncomfortable sleep.(hello Delta).

Food and wine list are not going to swing the scale towards AA for me. It is still going to be mediocre food and wine.

See, I don't ask for much.
Unfortunately, AA fails in many of the simple things mentioned above.
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Old Oct 6, 2023, 3:37 pm
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Carlos speaks wisely (except I'm not a fan of the seats)..

AA could triple what they spend on wine and I still wouldn't drink it. Emirates, JAL, Cathay have drinkable wine in First, but even then, the wine in J is weak.

It's all about the hard product. The 772 coffin style J seats are weak. At one point, when the 77W seats were relatively new, they had the best in class. They need ot focus on that, not doors to make the coffin complete.
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Old Oct 6, 2023, 4:10 pm
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Originally Posted by beachfan
They need ot focus on that, not doors to make the coffin complete.
Agreed. This door trend is silly, IMO. The doors are a poor solution to a non-issue; even if it was an issue, anyone over 6' can see over the doors with zero effort.

Originally Posted by beachfan
At one point, when the 77W seats were relatively new, they had the best in class.
The new version of the seat that CX has on their a350s still is second best in class IMO (ANA's new J "room" wins).

One of the other things that makes a difference is the screen quality. The screens AA used on the Zodiac Concept D seats are incapable of going dark, they have extraordinary light leakage from the top and bottom. It is really difficult to watch any shows/movies with night scenes as the leakage washes out the video.

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Regarding the OPs question - to make AA J better, they need someone with authority running the cabin. Right now, it's a bunch of equals with no supervision. Some do great, others largely exist on the plane sight unseen and some are like Stasi prison guards. Until there is an actual Purser on board with the ability to manage the flight, AA will continue to have hit or miss and industry trailing service and soft product.

Last edited by Antarius; Oct 6, 2023 at 4:18 pm
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